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Kids at Risk After Massachusetts Ruling on Sex Offenders

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Fox News: A Massachusetts court ruling that sex offenders convicted before 2006 cannot automatically be forced to wear a GPS monitoring device has put every child in the state in danger, a victims' rights group says.

In the 4-3 ruling on Tuesday, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that retroactively forcing sex offenders convicted more than three years ago to wear the tracking devices violates state and federal constitutions.

Debbie Savoia, vice president of Community Voices, a victims' rights group, said the ruling is a "slap in the face" to every sex crime victim in the state and a threat to public safety.

"I'm very angry," she told "It's all about the criminal's rights. What about the victims?"

Savoia saw the effects of the state's highest court's ruling Wednesday when she attended a hearing for Ralph Goodwin, who was convicted in 1990 of kidnapping and raping a 7-year-old boy. Goodwin was released on probation earlier this year after the state determined he was no longer dangerous.

Superior Court Judge Kathe Tuttman was asked by prosecutors to require Goodwin to wear a GPS device on his ankle while he lives in Lowell, and Tuttman said she was "legally prohibited" from forcing him to wear the tracking device.

"He's an extremely dangerous man, and the fact that he's not being monitored 24/7 is an issue," Savoia said. "I feel like every kid in Massachusetts is in danger. His crime was absolutely horrible.

"I've spoken to the [boy's] mother, and the pain in that woman is horrific and the fear is he'll do it to another child, and he probably will."

Middlesex District Attorney Gerald Leone Jr., who sought GPS monitoring for Goodwin, was also disappointed by Tuttman's decision.

"GPS monitoring of convicted sex offenders is an important, preventative tool to monitor the whereabouts of defendants who have preyed on victims and demonstrated a likelihood of reoffending," Leone said in a statement. "[Wednesday's] decision does not alter our opinion that it remains within the court's discretion to impose GPS monitoring for this class of criminal offenders, nor will it deter us from continuing to argue for this monitoring for other sexual offenders in the interest of public safety."

Coria Holland, spokeswoman for Probation Commissioner John O'Brien, said "every sex offender case" is currently being reviewed as a result of the court ruling.

Massachusetts currently monitors 82 sex offenders with GPS devices. An additional 221 sex offenders in the state are wanted for violating conditions of their parole. In 2006, the state passed the GPS provision as part of several changes to its Sex Offender Registry Law. Among the changes: homeless sex offenders must register every 45 days, rather than every 90 days, and the most egregious sex offenders are prohibited from living in nursing homes.

Jeannine Mercure, Goodwin's attorney, could not be reached for comment on Thursday. She had objected to the GPS request, arguing that Goodwin receives psychiatric counseling and is visited by a nurse daily to ensure he takes required medications.

Goodwin's neighbors in Lowell told they were "shocked" by the court's decision.

"If I had children, you bet it would concern me," said one woman who asked not to be identified.

"What this guy did, he's got a serious problem and that doesn't just go away. We have lots of kids in this development."

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4 comments so far | Post a comment now
mercaties August 22, 2009, 9:14 PM

I’d like to point out that there are different types of sex offenders. Legally, a 19 year old who has sex with a 16 year old is considered a sex offender in most states. But a sex offender who is convicted of commiting any type of sex crime against a child should absolutly have to wear a GPS device this should be a federal law. Also, I’m so sick of this BS about registering as homeless they need to be locked up if they can’t provide an address where they can be monitored.

ApolloJustice August 22, 2009, 9:47 PM

This law lacks logic if you understood GPS and *ex offenders. GPS has a host of problems like inaccuracy, false alarms, and can be removed. But not every registrant will re-offend anyways, and most *ex crimes are committed by someone not on the list and most likely by someone the victim knows. We need SMART solutions, not fearmongering. Truth @

Jon Swift August 22, 2009, 11:22 PM

Were the protocol of “A Modest Proposal” followed, crimes against children could be eliminated.

Ten Tees January 8, 2011, 7:08 PM

Good information. Good reading. I have got a single opinion to give about t-shirts.

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